Starting A Window Washing Business Is Easy If You Eliminate Distractions

Today I wanted to discuss something that is sure to cause some disagreement perhaps. But what’s life without a little controversy, right? :o )

I’m going to challenge the myth out there that basically goes like this:

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”

To explain this statement in case someone has not heard this, it basically means to spread yourself out thereby spreading the risk, so if one revenue stream dries up, you have others to fall back on. Sounds good in theory.

In my window washing business, I bought into this “multiple eggs” philosophy for many, many years. I was always doing at least a half dozen different businesses or money making ventures at once. A little network marketing, a few insurance sales, some credit card selling, a bit of travel fundraising, let’s throw in some paralegal work, etc. etc. It doesn’t work! Sure a little income comes in here and a little income comes in there, but the operative word is “little”. Can you imagine the results if 100% of the time spent was in ONE business-my window cleaning business?

So I’m here to say “hogwash” on having a bunch of different eggs.

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Put ALL Your Eggs in One Basket

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This is contrary to what many, many people believe these days but if you’ll allow me to expand on it, I think you’ll understand the point I’m trying to make here.

So to back up for a second, the first thing we need to do is determine whether the window washing business is a profitable business.

Is it?

Well…let’s look at the facts.

The window washing business will never go away and dry up. Through recessions, boom years, slow home building years, etc. etc, it’ll always be an in-demand business filled with customers who refuse to clean their own glass and won’t hesitate to hire professionals to do it for them. This business year in and year out will continuously be a profit generating machine.

Yes, the window washing business is a very profitable business.

So knowing this, why would we want to dilute our efforts in making this business the strongest it can be?

I talked to one of my students a couple days ago who routinely brings in $400 to $600 per day six days a week and is begging for the phone to STOP ringing. In it less than a year. This is executive type money. I know people who don’t make $600 in a WEEK. He focused and worked on this one revenue stream. Fast forward a few short months and bingo!

So again, is the window cleaning business profitable? Without a doubt.

Let’s look at an opposite situation.

A few months ago, someone bought my window washing program just to stick his feet in the window cleaning business and try it out. I had an opportunity to check out his website. He was selling a bunch of stuff and doing some network marketing all from this one site. And he decided to bring in window washing as another revenue stream. When we spoke, he told me his time was limited. Of course it is. It’s obviously going to be limited with him trying to get multiple businesses up and running.

How successful can this individual really be since he can’t devote quality time to promoting his window washing business? He certainly won’t be seeing the results he could be seeing by eliminating the other two businesses and focusing only on windows.

Something has to give. We only have so much time during the course of each day, right?

I understand of course that some folks get started part-time in the window washing business. They usually work a main job and get window washing going at the same time on a part-time basis. Great. But they are usually able to devote “quality” time promoting their window washing business once they’re off the clock from their other job.

For folks doing multiple businesses and working multiple eggs though, it’s hard to spend “quality” promotional effort on just one thing. Because where does one business end and the other begin? It doesn’t. Everything kind of blends together with the owner/operator trying to juggle all of it at once. It’s real tough to do and usually results in an across the board decrease of your total income.

We need to focus on one thing, build it, and then expand from within. I wish I would have followed this advice. Most of my students don’t know this, but even in the middle of my window washing business which was absolutely booming, I decided to invest in an unrelated business. It was a colossal failure.

I bought an asset protection business. A bunch of time, money, and resources was devoted to it. And guess what? The time and money spent in asset protection was taken directly from my window washing business. So what happened? Both businesses suffered. Eventually I saw the writing on the wall and kicked asset protection to the curb and refocused 100% on my window washing business. It was soon back to where it was before my asset protection purchase. Almost immediately the calls increased and so did the profits.

A more recent story involves The Customer Factor which is my window cleaning software. There are sooooo many distractions online. You can spend 4 hours online before you know it and then wonder where the time went. These distractions got in the way of me building new features into The Customer Factor regularly. So what happened? Well, although new members signed up, they didn’t sign up with the same frequency that they did during the first year of the program’s existence.

But as soon as I recommitted to investing into and growing The Customer Factor, a funny thing happened. My signups went through the roof. So although I’m in front of my computer 7 days a week 12 to 14 hours a day, what I do now is check email and work on The Customer Factor along with spending some time posting window washing articles. Total focus with no more distractions.

Back to the window washing business…So we’ve determined the biz is profitable, right? You have the tools to make it grow. So Grow it! Focus on it! Then once you have the calls continuously coming in, and customers are lining up for your window cleaning service, then perhaps it’s time to look at offering a related biz like pressure washing or blind cleaning. Expand from within. You’ve already got the customer base so provide ‘em another service.

But window cleaning and asset protection? Nah…not a good combo. :o ) I was a biz opp addict who always needed to build additional revenue streams. No regrets because it’s all a learning experience, but sometimes I think about how much faster I would have seen success if I just spent 100% of my time, money, and effort on one thing instead of splitting time, money, and effort in half or into thirds or even into fourths with unrelated businesses.

So if you are trying to create multiple revenue streams, I encourage you look at it objectively and ask yourself if it’s going well. Think how much farther ahead you would be if you focused only on your window washing business. Spend your valuable time and resources on this business. Yes, you may only see one revenue stream, but it’ll be one outstanding and profitable stream. :o )

Again, windows aren’t going anywhere. And they keep on building more. And they keep on getting dirty. So the only way this revenue stream would ever dry up or diminish is if you spread yourself out therefore spending too little time working in and growing your window washing business.

Save Taxes – Basics of an Irrevocable Life Insurance Dynasty Trust

For US persons, an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) is arguably the most efficient structure for integrating tax-free investment growth, wealth transfer and asset protection. An ILIT comprises two main parts: (1) an irrevocable trust; and (2) a life insurance policy owned by the trust. An international (or offshore) ILIT is a trust governed by the law of a foreign jurisdiction that owns foreign-based life insurance. An offshore ILIT is better than a domestic ILIT because it is more flexible and less expensive. Regarding US tax laws, a properly designed international ILIT is treated virtually the same as a domestic ILIT.An ILIT becomes a dynasty trust (or GST trust) when the trust’s settlor (or grantor, the person who establishes and funds the trust) applies his lifetime exemption for the generation skipping transfer tax (GSTT) to trust contributions. Once a dynasty trust is properly funded by applying the settlor’s lifetime exemptions for gift, estate and GST taxes, all distributions to beneficiaries will be free of gift and estate taxes for the duration of the trust, even perpetually. The individual unified gift and estate tax exemption and the GSTT exemption are both $5 million ($10 million for a married couple) during 2011 and 2012, which are the highest amounts in decades.Under the US tax code, no income or capital gains taxes are due on life insurance investment growth, and no income tax is due when policy proceeds are paid to an insurance beneficiary upon death of the insured. When a dynasty trust purchases and owns the life insurance policy and is named as the insurance beneficiary, no estate tax or generation skipping transfer taxes are due. In other words, assets can grow and be enjoyed by trust beneficiaries completely tax-free forever. Depending on how a trust is designed, a portion of trust assets can be invested in a new life insurance policy each generation to continue the cycle.Private placement life insurance (PPLI) is privately negotiated between an insurance carrier and the insurance purchaser (e.g., a dynasty ILIT). Private placement life insurance is also known as variable universal life insurance. The policy funds are invested in a separately managed account, separate from the general funds of the insurance company, and may include stocks, hedge funds, and other high-growth and/or tax-inefficient investment vehicles. Offshore (foreign) private placement life insurance has several advantages over domestic life insurance. In-kind premium payments (e.g., stock shares) are allowed, whereas domestic policies require cash. There are few restrictions on policy investments, while state regulations restrict a domestic policy’s investments. The minimum premium commitment of foreign policies typically is US$1 million. Domestic carriers demand a minimum commitment of $5 million to $20 million. Also, offshore carriers allow policy investments to be managed by an independent investment advisor suggested by the policy owner. Finally, offshore policy costs are lower than domestic costs. An election under IRC § 953(d) by a foreign insurance carrier avoids imposition of US withholding tax on insurance policy income and gains.Whether domestic or offshore, PPLI must satisfy the definition of life insurance according to IRC § 7702 to qualify for the tax benefits. Also, key investment control (IRC § 817(g)) and diversification (IRC § 851(b)) rules must be observed. When policy premiums are paid in over four or five years as provided in IRC § 7702A(b), the policy is a non-MEC policy from which policy loans can be made. If policy loans are not important during the term of the policy, then a single up-front premium payment into a MEC policy is preferable because of tax-free compounding.An offshore ILIT provides much greater protection of trust assets against creditors of both settlor and beneficiaries. Courts in the US have no jurisdiction outside of the US, and enforcement of US court judgments against offshore trust assets is virtually impossible. Although all offshore jurisdictions have laws against fraudulent transfers, they are more limited than in the United States. In any case, an offshore ILIT is necessary to purchase offshore life insurance because foreign life insurance companies are not allowed to market and sell policies directly to US residents. An international trust, however, is a non-resident and is eligible to purchase life insurance from an offshore insurance carrier.An international ILIT may be self-settled, that is, the settlor of the trust may be a beneficiary without exposing trust assets to the settlor’s creditors. In contrast, in the United States, the general rule is that self-settled trusts are not honored for asset protection purposes.In Private Letter Ruling (PLR) 200944002, the IRS ruled that assets in a discretionary asset protection trust were not includable in the grantor’s (settlor’s) gross estate even though the grantor was a beneficiary of the trust. The trustee of a discretionary trust uses his discretion in making distributions to beneficiaries consistent with trust provisions. Previously, it was questionable whether a settlor could be beneficiary of an ILIT without jeopardizing favorable tax treatment upon his death. The new ruling gives some assurance to a US taxpayer who wants to be a beneficiary of a self-settled, irrevocable, discretionary asset-protection trust that is not subject to estate and GST tax. As a result, the trustee can (at the trustee’s discretion) withdraw principal from the PPLI or take a tax-free loan from the policy’s cash value and distribute it tax-free to the settlor, as well as to other beneficiaries. In other words, a settlor need not sacrifice all enjoyment of ILIT benefits in order to achieve preferred tax treatment.An offshore ILIT is designed to qualify under IRS rules as a domestic trust during normal times and as a foreign trust in case of domestic legal threats to its assets. The offshore ILIT is formally governed by the laws of a foreign jurisdiction and has at least one resident foreign trustee there. As a “domestic” trust under IRS rules, the trust also has a domestic trustee who controls the trust during normal times. If a domestic legal threat arises, control of the trust shifts to the foreign trustee, outside the jurisdiction of US courts, and the trust becomes a “foreign” trust for tax purposes. A domestic trust “protector” having negative (or veto) powers may be appointed to provide limited control over trustee decisions. An international ILIT protects trust assets against unforeseen lawsuits, bankruptcy and divorce.The objective of PPLI is to minimize life insurance costs and to maximize investment growth. The life insurance policy acts as a “wrapper” around investments so that they qualify for favorable tax treatment. Nevertheless, PPLI still provides a valuable life insurance benefit in case of an unexpected early death of the insured.Initial costs of setting up an ILIT are high, but are recouped after a few years of tax-free investment growth. Initial legal and accounting fees are typically in a range of $25,000 to $50,000. Premium “loading” charges are in a range of about 3% to 5% of premiums paid into offshore PPLI (compared to 8 – 10% in domestic PPLI). Annually recurring charges depend on policy value and vary widely among PPLI carriers, so careful comparison shopping is advised. For example, annual asset charges should be in a range of about 40 to 150 basis points (0.4% to 1.5%) of the policy’s cash value. The annual cost of insurance is not substantial and declines over time. Annual costs for maintaining an offshore trust are several thousand dollars. Finally, investment manager fees are paid regularly out of policy funds.Cash may be contributed to the ILIT, which then purchases PPLI. If asset protection of vulnerable fixed assets in the US is a concern, then equity stripping can be used to generate cash, which is then contributed to the offshore ILIT. Of course, stocks and bonds and other assets may also be contributed to the ILIT and used for investing in PPLI. Various value-freezing and valuation discounting techniques can be used to leverage the GSTT exemption.An offshore “frozen cash value” policy is a variation of PPLI governed by IRC § 7702(g). The minimum premium commitment is about $250,000. During the life of the insured, the cash surrender value is fixed at the sum of the premiums paid. Withdrawals up to the amount of the paid-in premiums are tax-free, but cash value in excess of the premium amounts is inaccessible until after death of the insured.Another alternative investment for an ILIT is a deferred variable annuity (DVA). There is no cost of insurance, so investment growth is faster. Tax on appreciation is deferred, but DVA distributions are taxed as income.Generally, for public policy reasons and because the insurance industry possesses strong political influence, life insurance has long enjoyed favorable tax treatment. Over the past two decades, numerous IRS rulings have clarified the tax treatment of PPLI and irrevocable discretionary trusts. At the same time, strong, new asset protection laws and reliable service providers in numerous foreign jurisdictions have enabled safe, efficient and flexible management of international trusts and insurance products. As a result, an international irrevocable, discretionary trust owning PPLI can provide tax-free growth of a global, variable investment portfolio managed by a trusted financial adviser in full compliance with US tax laws. At the discretion of the trustee, trust assets (including tax-free insurance policy loans and withdrawals) are available to the settlor during his lifetime. Upon death of the insured, policy proceeds are paid tax-free to the trust. Thus, a well-managed life insurance dynasty trust perpetually secures the financial well being of settlor, spouse, children and their descendants.Warning & Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.Copyright 2011 – Thomas Swenson

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